The Imposter Syndrome

October 13, 2021
Written by
Ilya Dorman

A few months ago I had a short consulting session with Dr. Doug Brackmann.

Those 20 minutes had a lasting impact on me.

What strikes me the most is how through a simple conversation, breathing and focus I felt like those 20 minutes were beneficial like many years of therapy never have been.

I felt at peace.

Later I saw he wrote a book called “Driven” which I read already twice.

He was talking about those of us who are labeled with ADHD, addictive personality, or plainly restless.

Our nervous system is in constant danger mode.

We are wired for a world where you hunt or become hunted. Those “symptoms” are what kept us alive.

After the agricultural revolution, the need for this wiring almost disappeared, yet around 10% of us keep being born wired as if nothing has changed in the last 10,000 years.

After that session my nervous system was no longer looking for a sabertooth tiger around the corner.

So imagine my surprise when I heard him on a podcast saying that he, with a double Ph.D. and accomplished practice, is battling with imposter syndrome.

What am I to say?

For more than two years I have been making a living from my own business.

With my background (much trauma and zero Ph.D.s there…)

I consider this nothing short of a miracle.

I teach programmers how to learn better and navigate all the negative emotions that come up when learning.

And some mornings I get so anxious.

Why would anyone listen to me?

Some days I fail miserably at things I teach.

What if the next client will come up and say that I am a scam and a fraud who knows nothing about anything?

Yet to hear someone who I hold in such high regard, experiences the same fears as I do, gives me so much relief.

It means I am not alone in my fear and my shame

If so many of us feel this way, doesn’t it mean none of us should be hiding those feelings?

Holding ourselves back thinking our gifts might not be of great benefit to others?

And sometimes, our biggest gift to someone is not any deep professional knowledge, but a simple acknowledgment of our emotions.

And when some of us can be wired so differently, the gift is even bigger. We no longer feel so alone and isolated.

There is a huge transformation that is happening in the past 5-10 years in the way we perceive interpersonal relationships.

How we learn to

share our emotions


deal with our trauma

I think it’s nigh time we bring the same approach into the work and education spaces. It trickles there slowly but most of them are still stuck in the industrial, if not agricultural, revolution.

Start sharing your worst fears and the things you are ashamed about.

Enough hiding in the shadows.

Work or university should not be a place where you turn off your humanity.